I am thrilled to have been invited to exhibit and sell my drawings at the Sale Arts Trail Christmas Bazaar to be held on Sunday 27th November at the Claremont Centre in Sale. I have attended both the summer and Christmas events as a visitor and also as an Urban sketcher in recent years, so it is particularly thrilling for me to be able to exhibit for the first time. In my visits I have had the pleasure of sketching some of the wonderful locations and artworks. These events are positive treasure troves for any keen illustrator, especially ones that like telling the stories of places and people through drawing (i.e. Me!!). A selection of the sketches I created, done on location, are shown below.
As most of you that are regular readers of my blog are aware, I am an Urban sketcher with a keen interest and passion for reportage illustration: telling stories through drawing: creating a sense of place and occasion through my illustrations (not all of which are Urban!). All of my drawing work is done on location, in real time, with only finishing touches such as lettering and some colour, added later. A lot of my work is to commission for specific public and private clients such as The Manchester Histories Festival, Cities Of Hope and BuryVenues. When I am out on location, perhaps as an urban sketcher, I am often using a sketchbook, creating a strong visual diary but this doesn’t necessarily lend itself to creating prints, so more recently, I am using a Board and watercolour paper. This blog shares a snapshot of my recent Process, out on location creating new works for the Bazaar.
My drawings are all about a sense of place so when I arrive at a location I am looking around for a good composition that epitomises what the place is about. So in effect I am looking at the visual composition as a piece of art but also what it says about the place. It has to tick both boxes. The question is, does this view, totally represent the place, and if it doesn’t, do I still do it with other views too, or do I find a better composition? The devil is in the detail so this is a very important first step in the process.
I am creating a selection of drawings of different size and orientations for the Bazaar but whatever the size I always decide early on, where I am drawing from and to. Exactly what is included between those two points can come later but I always decide what the viewport is so to speak. Then I use soft pencil to work out the scale, proportion and shape of key elements. It’s a box drawing at this stage, not one that has all the character of the buildings and surroundings, but people are placed in the drawing at this stage too and the levels of road, path etc.
Then comes the line work, the greater detail of the buildings, their edges, the window and door frames, followed by the details like ornamentation, smaller street furniture etc. Making decisions about what stays in and what would over clutter the scene is important. Everything has to earn its place! And as I am standing there, I am absorbing the atmosphere and the feel of the place and the role of some key elements so this really helps create the emotion of the drawing. Then once the line work is done, the darks go in, to separate planes and emphasize shadow, creating much more depth and dimension.
The final element on the types of drawing I have been describing is the colour (watercolour, using mostly Daniel Smith tube paint decanted into pans), sometimes added on location and sometimes added later (although key decisions are always made on site). I am selective with the colour (both what I colour and the different colours I use) and I’m using it to help narrate and zoom in on the focus of the drawing. I am also tying in various elements of the drawing through colour, much the way a designer would do, pulling the scene together through consistency. I also create colour first drawings with a looser spontaneous effect and some of these will be also be available for sale at the Bazaar.
Finally, something that I am very excited to share with you: I am creating a 2017 calendar (not in the usual format!) for sale at the Bazaar of some of the drawings created from March-July 2016 in Manchester City Centre in the lead up to the International Urban Sketching Symposium held at MMU School of Art in July. The drawings were done to provide a snapshot of Manchester to inspire our International Visitors. These drawings have a special resonance for me as I was the Local Correspondent, drawing the Symposium as it was in progress; I think they lend themselves to use in a calendar!
The new works, either colour first or selective colour, will be available for sale as prints on my stall together with the Calendar. I would love to see you there so please do drop by and say hello!